SENTENCE PATTERNS 1—20
THE ART OF STYLING SENTENCES
PATTERN 1: COMPOUND SENTENCE: SEMICOLON, NO CONJUNCTION
(two short, related sentences now joined)
S______V_ ; _S_____V_ .
Caesar, try on this toga; it seems to be your size.
PATTERN 2: COMPOUND SENTENCE WITH ELLIPTICAL CONSTRUCTION
(comma indicates the omitted verb)
_S ____V__DO or SC_ ; _S _____DO_or__SC_.
We like classical music; George, punk rock.
PATTERN 3: COMPOUND SENTENCE WITH EXPLANATORY STATEMENT
(clauses separated by a colon)
General statement (idea)_: specific statement (example).
PATTERN 4: A SERIES WITHOUT A CONJUNCTION
(a series in any part of the sentence)
A , B , C________.
The coach is loud, profane, demonstrative; he has again
been trapped, caught, humiliated.
PATTERN 5: A SERIES OF BALANCED PAIRS
(note the rhythm)
A and B__, C
and D ,
E and F .
(may be in any slot in the sentence)
The actual herbs in special vinegars – thyme and basil, rosemary and garlic, hot pepper and chive – float in beautifully designed bottles.
PATTERN 6: AN INTRODUCTORY SERIES OF APPOSITIVES
(with a dash and a summarizing subject
Appositive, appositive, appositive – summary word S V.
(The key summarizing word before the subject may be one of these: such,
those, this many each, which, what, these, something, someone. Sometimes this
summary word will be the subject, but other times it will merely modify the
Vanity, greed, corruption – which serves as the
novel’s source of conflict?
PATTERN 7: AN INTERNAL SERIES OF APPOSITIVES OR MODIFIERS
(enclosed by a pair of dashes or parentheses)
S - appositive, appositive, appositive - V
The necessary qualities for political life – guile,
ruthlessness, and garrulity – he learned by carefully studying his father’s
PATTERN 8 DEPENDENT CLAUSES IN A PAIR OR IN A SERIES
(at beginning or end of sentence)
If . . . , if . . . , if . . . , then
S V .
When . . . , when . . . , when . . . , S
S V that . . . , that . . . , that . . . .
(omit third clause and have just two if you wish)
Whether one needs fantasy or whether one needs stark
realism, the theater can become a mirror of life.
PATTERN 9: REPETITION OF KEY TERM
term OR repeated
He was a cruel brute of a man, brutal to his family and
even more brutal to his friends.
EMPHATIC APPOSITIVE AT END, AFTER A
appositive (the second naming with or without modifiers)
Airport thieves have a common target: unwary travelers.
PATTERN 11: INTERRUPTING MODIFIER BETWEEN S AND V
(modifier that whispers) V
A small drop of ink, falling like a dew upon a thought,
can make millions think.
PATTERN 12: INTRODUCTORY OR CONCLUDING PARTICIPLES
V , Participial
Guarding us with their powerful guns, the heavily armed
soldiers at the
PATTERN 13: A SINGLE MODIFIER OUT OF PLACE FOR EMPHASIS
(modifier may be in other positions)
Below, the traffic looked like a necklace of ants.
PATTERN 14: PREPOSITION PHRASE BEFORE S – V
After that, time had no meaning for him.
PATTERN 15: OBJECT
OR COMPLEMENT BEFORE S – V
Object or Subject Complement S
His kind of sarcasm I do not like.
PATTERN 16: PAIRED
Not only S V , but also S
may be omitted.)
Just as S V , so too S V
(may be so
also or simply so)
The more S V , the more S
If not , at least * .
*Note that the if
not . . . at least construction joins individual grammatical units
not complete clauses.
The more I saw films by that
director, the less I liked his work.
PATTERN 16a: A PAIRED CONSTRUCTION FOR CONTRAST ONLY
A “this, not that” or “not this but that”
in some place other than the verb position
Genius, not stupidity, has limits.
PATTERN 17: DEPENDENT CLAUSE (in a
“sentence slot”) AS SUBJECT OR
OBJECT OR COMPLEMENT
S [dependent clause as subject] V .
S V [dependent clause as object or comp.] .
[How he could fail] is a mystery to me.
PATTERN 18: ABSOLUTE CONSTRUCTION (noun plus
Absolute construction , S V .
S absolute construction , V .
All things considered, the
situation seems favorable.
PATTERN 19: THE SHORT, SIMPLE SENTENCE FOR RELIEF OR DRAMATIC
PATTERN 20: THE DELIBERATE FRAGMENT
A master stylist, ironically enough, often relies on brief sentence fragments to give emphasis and a sense of immediacy to his or her prose. Used sparingly, the garment can be as effective as the rhetorical question or the short, dramatic sentence.
Now, on with the story.